Suma Varughese affirms that the truth of Oneness is evident in all of Nature. Can we adopt this as our guiding principle if we wish to survive?
I was entranced to read somewhere that when new leaves unfurl, they do so in a way that does not hinder earlier leaves from getting air or sunshine. They find themselves a place that works for everyone. I recently introduced three new saplings into the tiny open space outside my living room. To my delight, two of them have been growing with great alacrity, putting out new leaves regularly. Both used to be creepers, but, now, both are steadily growing taller, in order to enable the new leaves to get their share of the sunshine and air without impeding the welfare of the earlier leaves. How utterly sensitive of our plant siblings! There is no competition to get the most favourable spot, no walking over others in order to get what they want, no bullying or browbeating others to do what they want.
But this is no surprise. All of Nature operates along the lines of mutual co-operation, of putting the interests of the other ahead of its own, and supporting all life to flourish. Nature operates on the principles of Oneness and Interconnection, which is why it thrives.
In his new documentary, A Life On Our Planet, the eminent ecologist David Attenborough says that Nature’s governing principle is harmony, and all the diverse life forms collectively are ecosystems that enable everyone to contribute crucial services. These services include dispersing seeds to propagate life, oceans absorbing excess heat, trees spreading oxygen and absorbing carbon dioxide, and mangroves protecting coasts.
How clear it is that the ultimate truth of life is Oneness! We do not need to read weighty books on Advaita, Vedanta, or Zen. We need not wait for a spiritual awakening to act. Every atom of Nature screams out this truth to us. May we not heed it?
The reason why Nature has got its act so impeccably is that it is the Creator who operates through every leaf, root, flower, and fruit. Humankind alone has been given the supreme gift of freedom of will. Humans have the choice to do the right or the wrong thing. And although we must ruefully admit that our progress report is not flattering, we could not have acted otherwise. The presence of the ego or the false self within us, which came into being because of the anxiety and insecurity of separation from the whole, has caused us to act unwisely and dangerously.
But we can change, can we not? For starters, can we design our lifestyle along the lines of Oneness? What would it mean? It would mean acting in a way that safeguards life and destroys nothing. It means questioning virtually everything we do, and making changes. Hard changes. Painful changes. Ensuring that capitalism factors in the welfare of the whole would be the most vital change. All producers of goods and services must ensure that they refrain from poisoning the air, water, and soil by changing their processes. If they cannot do that, they should shut down. Is it not suicidal to continue to destroy ourselves?
Attenborough concludes that Nature will survive any damage humankind may wreak on it, but he cannot say the same for our species. Nature will stay, we will go. That is fair. I am glad Nature won’t pay the price for our folly. But humankind going extinct? Do we really want this?
Suma Varughese is a thinker, writer, and former Editor-in-Chief of Life Positive. She also holds writer’s workshops. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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